A host of 60 or so protesters appeared at the Federal Communications
Commission's Washington headquarters Friday, one-dozen dressed as angels, to
protest what they say is the agency's indifference to media conglomeration.
The theme of the protest was taken from a 1998 speech in which commission
chairman Michael Powell said he waited for the 'angel of the public interest' to
visit him after he was sworn in as a commissioner.
The crowd sang a number of songs lamenting the relaxation of media-ownership
limits, sung to the tune of hymns and protest songs. 'Angels We Have Heard on
High' provided the melody for, 'Michael Powell we're here to say ... Don't make
our airwaves a shopping mall.'
Bill Talen, in the guise of alter ego The Rev. Billy, Church of Stop
Shopping, addressed Powell with a public-address system across from the FCC
After being informed that he was directing his message to the Blue Cross
building rather than his intended target, Rev. Billy quipped, 'It's been so long
since you've served the public interest, we can't find you anymore.'
Next the protesters marched to the FCC entrance to present Powell with a mock
'crystal ball of the public interest,' but guards wouldn't let them in the
building, nor would they accept the cardboard and plastic token.
The protest was part of Media Democracy Week, a national effort sponsored by
independent media activists to raise awareness about the industry's
consolidation and its impact on democracy.
A daylong seminar featuring Washington media activists, independent
filmmakers and producers and academics was scheduled for